49ers falter before No. 7 Ohio State’s D, 89-55

Coach Dan Monson was asked a series of questions about Long

Beach State’s quick turnaround against a top opponent, the team’s

injuries, and its brutal schedule.

Finally he just gave up.

”Let me give you all of our excuses,” he cracked.

Deshaun Thomas had 18 points, including a 3-pointer during an

11-point run in the first half, to lead No. 7 Ohio State past a

tired bunch of 49ers 89-55 on Saturday.

Dan Jennings scored 16 points, and James Ennis had 12 for the

49ers (3-6), who have dropped three straight.

They lost at No. 4 Syracuse 84-53 on Thursday before taking on

another top-10 team just over 40 hours later.

”We just have to believe that we can go out and win these kinds

of games,” Jennings said. ”We have to come together as a team,

play together. We may not be the deepest team, but we have talent,

and if we believe, we can do it.”

Long Beach State’s strength of schedule was ranked 38th in the

nation before the difficult games at Syracuse and Ohio State. They

had already played No. 11 North Carolina and No. 10 Arizona, along

with unranked Southern California, and will visit UCLA later this

month.

Consider that the 49ers lost a promising backup point guard with

a broken leg in the opener, and that three experienced players will

become eligible in the next 10 days, and it’s easy to see what

Monson and his team were up against with Ohio State and

Syracuse.

”We probably have bitten off a little bit too much this week,”

he said. ”This is a true preseason for us. We’re obviously just

trying to get better right now. Last year’s team was fighting in

these games for an at-large bid. This team is not ready for that.

It’s a work in progress, and we have a long ways to go.”

The 49ers hung with the Buckeyes (6-1) for a while, at least.

They were holding their own, down just 14-11, before Ohio State ran

off 11 unanswered points.

Up by 14 at the half, the Buckeyes wasted little time in putting

the game out of reach.

Lenzelle Smith Jr., who finished with 14 points, made a jumper

on the first trip down the floor of the second half and, after a

Long Beach miss, he fed Evan Ravenel for a thunderous dunk down the

heart of the lane.

Monson, familiar with Ohio State from his days coaching at

Minnesota, called a quick timeout at the 19-minute mark but that

didn’t stem the tide.

”This game was over one minute into the second half,” he said.

”To me, that’s where (my) team has got to grow. It is a bad

basketball team, but it doesn’t have to be. We have better players

than what we played today. That’s something that we’ve got to, we

have to play better.”

Buckeyes coach Thad Matta was concerned about the 49ers’ size

inside, but ultimately his defense dominated the game.

”If you weren’t there on the catch, they were going to shoot

it,” he said of the 49ers. ”The thing that scares you about a

team like that is just the size of the guys shooting. I thought we

did a pretty good job of challenging shots.”

Long Beach State shot just 31 percent for the game, was

outrebounded 49-33, and had 13 turnovers that resulted in 16

Buckeyes points.

Asked if having to play two of the top seven teams in the nation

on the road in a short time span was a difficult task, Monson

didn’t blink.

”I’m OK with that. You’ve got to put kids into adverse

situations and see how they react,” he said. ”Right now we’re not

reacting good enough. I knew it would be hard, but they need to

fight through that.”

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:

http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap